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Background. Deterioration of motor function is one of several clinical manifestations following traumatic brain injury ( TBI ) in children and adolescents. Objective. To investigate the relationship between white matter ( WM ) integrity using diffusion tensor imaging ( DTI ) and motor functioning in young TBI patients. Methods. A group with moderate to severe TBI ( n = 24 ) and a control group ( n = 17 ) were scanned using DTI along with standard anatomical scans. Using ExploreDTI software, WM regions/tracts that carry efferent output ( motor ) from the brain were evaluated, as well as the corpus callosum, brainstem, internal capsule, and subcortical WM structures. Motor function was assessed using the Movement Assessment Battery for Children ( M-ABC ), consisting of manual dexterity, ball skills, and static and dynamic balance items. Results. TBI patients were less successful on the M-ABC than the controls and showed lower WM fractional anisotropy ( FA ) in the corpus callosum, anterior corona radiata, corticospinal tract, and cerebellum. Decreased FA was associated with lower motor performance in the TBI group but not in the control group. Conclusion. This study provides evidence for a structural alteration of motor pathways and regions in children and adolescents with TBI that are correlated with motor functioning. Further studies may be able to identify therapeutic targets and monitor the effects of new interventions.

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Journal Article

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